Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story
(on a postcard)

Everybody Writes Your Life Story (on a postcard)

A former preacher told me he believed that writing postcard life stories for people is my calling. I'm not sure about that, but I can't imagine an endpoint for the project. I thought that I might eventually run out of requests, but it's now clear that isn't going to happen. So I decided the goal of the project should be to write the postcard life story of everybody. Of course, I can't do that by myself so I'm hoping you will help me. (After all, the project has always been collaborative; it wouldn't exist if people didn't tell me their life stories to begin with.) If you would like to write somebody's life story (on a postcard), then please leave a comment here or email me at postcardlifestories [@] gmail.com. This has already happened a couple of times. The great Sam Ligon wrote my life story (on a postcard) last year. And a bunch of other fine writers are pitching in.
Comments (2)

#127 Samuel Ligon Cannot Be Beaten

When Sam Ligon was growing up, his family moved every 3-4 years (his father was transferred or offered a better job somewhere else). This never seemed strange, but Sam is unusually close to his three siblings as a result. After his childhood, Sam moved away to Urbana-Champaign to attend the University of Illinois, which turned out to be a great place to be because that’s where Kim was too. Back then, at first, they were both in these toxic relationships and friends with each other's toxic boyfriend/girlfriend, but they got together before their senior year. Everybody loves Kim (for example, she's never applied for a job and not gotten it). Sam knew that he wanted to marry Kim the minute they got together and she felt the same way, so they did that when they were 22. A week later, they left the country to teach English in Japan. Sam wanted to be a writer and he thought writers should leave the country. In Japan, they found a dead body, a guy who had hung himself up in the mountains east of Kyoto. The dead man was blue and they called him Blueboy and he was exactly what Sam had been looking for. They left Japan and Sam wrote a story called “Blueboy”—about some expatriates in Japan who find a dead body. It was published in The Quarterly—Sam’s first published story (1988). During three weeks in 2001, 9/11 happened 50 miles upwind from Sam and Kim, his first book was accepted for publication (Safe in Heaven Dead, 2003), and his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. The cancer treatment sucked, and it was hard with a Paul and Jane (at the time, just 3 and 5, respectively), but their friends came from all over the country to help. Sam lived on Long Island for over 10 years—by far the longest he has ever lived anywhere. (Sam has lived in most states north of the Mason-Dixon and east of the Mississippi.) Then he moved the family to Spokane 4 years ago, for his teaching job at Eastern Washington University. In the West, people think Sam is a New Yorker, and, most oddly to Sam, Jewish, which he’s happy to let them think. Now that the family has settled in Spokane, he doesn't want to move them again. Sam wants to raise Jane and Paul in one place, even though he claims to like the fact that he’s from everywhere. Jane is an incredible artist and Paul is the funniest person Sam knows. What else? Both of the kids are really nice people, probably because they have such nice parents. What else? Sam’s first story collection, Drift and Swerve, was just published. More? Sam doesn't play golf or have a boat, but he does edit Willow Springs. The last bit that recurs through the whole life? Kim is fine now, and Sam and Kim have been married 23 years. They're happy. They think their kids are happy. None of them has ever been beaten.

More Sam Ligon

[Note: This postcard life story is part of a series of postcard life stories that will appear in Keyhole #6 (guest edited by William Walsh), where all the contributor bios will be postcard life stories--the idea being to make every possible aspect of the magazine literature.]
Comments (2)

#128 Michael Kimball Feels Like He Can Do Anything

Michael Kimball was born two weeks late, during the Great Midwest Blizzard of 1967. His father was huge, weighing as much as 450 pounds, and could be very scary—he had fast hands and nobody ever knew when he would go into a rage. But Michael’s mother was incredibly giving, often doing without so that her three children could have clothes for school, shoes for the basketball team. The family didn't have much money, but Michael didn’t realize this until later. For a long time, he was the shortest, skinniest kid in class or on the basketball team. Sometimes he still feels this way, even though he’s 6'2'', 200 pounds. He hit .853 one year in little league, and holds the Meryl S. Colt Elementary School record for the 600-yard dash. But he gave up all other sports for running—was all-state cross-country in high school—until he had a stress fracture in his left foot and never competed again. After that, he didn't have anything he felt great at anymore. He floundered through his early years at Michigan State, changing majors, flunking classes. Then he started reading a lot and became serious about writing. He can't believe he grew up identifying as an athlete and that now he’s a novelist. Some people think he channels voices in his novels, which is unsettling because of his family history concerning spiritualism. His great-great-great uncle was a noted medium in the early 20th century, conducting popular readings and séances. A dead Irishman was his connection to the other side. Michael learned from his grandfather little ways to supposedly communicate with the other side—knocks, slips of paper one carries until an answer is received, that kind of thing. After college, Michael moved to Chicago and then New York to attend graduate school. It wasn't until he arrived in NYC that he felt he belonged somewhere. If he had stayed in the Midwest, he probably wouldn't have become a writer. He’d probably be a high school teacher and unhappy. Dropping out of NYU was just as important, because he’d realized he wanted to write fiction, not anything academic. The other great thing about NYU is that Michael met his wife there, Tita Chico, who is smart and beautiful and kind and supportive in all the right ways. They’ve been together over 15 years, and have four cats and no children, and they like it that way. Michael had a huge struggle with his second novel, How Much of Us There Was, and almost gave up writing. The same thing happened with his third novel, Dear Everybody, but he somehow reached a point where he stopped caring what anybody else thought about his writing and that released him to finish Dear Everybody and to write Friday, Saturday, Sunday, which he recently finished. He never would have started Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story (on a postcard) without that feeling. Even though he loves Baltimore, he sometimes misses NYC. But he’s glad he left. He likes who he is now better than who he was then. He feels like he can do anything.


[Note #1: This postcard life story was written by Sam Ligon after he interviewed me as I have interviewed so many others for this project. Thanks, Sam.]

[Note #2: This postcard life story is part of a series of postcard life stories that will appear in Keyhole #6 (guest edited by William Walsh), where all the contributor bios will be postcard life stories--the idea being to make every possible aspect of the magazine literature.]
Comments (15)

#127 Samuel Ligon Cannot Be Beaten

When Samuel Ligon was growing up, his family moved every 3-4 years (his father was transferred or offered a better job somewhere else). This never seemed strange, but Sam is unusually close to his three siblings as a result. After his childhood, Sam moved away to Urbana-Champaign to attend the University of Illinois, which turned out to be a great place to be because that’s where Kim was too. Back then, at first, they were both in these toxic relationships and friends with each other's toxic boyfriend/girlfriend, but they got together before their senior year. Everybody loves Kim (for example, she's never applied for a job and not gotten it). Sam knew that he wanted to marry Kim the minute they got together and she felt the same way, so they did that when they were 22. A week later, they left the country to teach English in Japan. Sam wanted to be a writer and he thought writers should leave the country. In Japan, they found a dead body, a guy who had hung himself up in the mountains east of Kyoto. The dead man was blue and they called him Blueboy and he was exactly what Sam had been looking for. They left Japan and Sam wrote a story called “Blueboy”—about some expatriates in Japan who find a dead body. It was published in The Quarterly—Sam’s first published story (1988). During three weeks in 2001, 9/11 happened 50 miles upwind from Sam and Kim, his first book was accepted for publication (Safe in Heaven Dead, 2003), and his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. The cancer treatment sucked, and it was hard with a Paul and Jane (at the time, just 3 and 5, respectively), but their friends came from all over the country to help. Sam lived on Long Island for over 10 years—by far the longest he has ever lived anywhere. (Sam has lived in most states north of the Mason-Dixon and east of the Mississippi.) Then he moved the family to Spokane 4 years ago, for his teaching job at Eastern Washington University. In the West, people think Sam is a New Yorker, and, most oddly to Sam, Jewish, which he’s happy to let them think. Now that the family has settled in Spokane, he doesn't want to move them again. Sam wants to raise Jane and Paul in one place, even though he claims to like the fact that he’s from everywhere. Jane is an incredible artist and Paul is the funniest person Sam knows. What else? Both of the kids are really nice people, probably because they have such nice parents. What else? Sam’s first story collection, Drift and Swerve, will come out in 2009. More? Sam doesn't play golf or have a boat, but he does edit Willow Springs. The last bit that recurs through the whole life? Kim is fine now, and Sam and Kim have been married 23 years. They're happy. They think their kids are happy. None of them has ever been beaten.

More Sam Ligon

[Note: This postcard life story is part of a series of postcard life stories that will appear in Keyhole #6 (guest edited by William Walsh), where all the contributor bios will be postcard life stories--the idea being to make every possible aspect of the magazine literature.]
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